An Evaluation of Evaluations

by Rebecca Schuman

In my continuing effort to lampoon a particular conceit of college instruction in the form of that conceit (and they say I learned nothing from Wittgenstein! Or Kafka!), today I bring you my (narrative) evaluation of student evaluations of teaching. (Hint: POOR)

I could not have written this piece without the hundreds of responses I got on Twitter, Facebook, this blog and email, detailing both the heartwarming and heart-wrenching ways in which our students “rate” us when they think they’re anonymous (as I point out in the article, they are rarely truly anonymous).

I’m actually handing out my Spring evals today, irony of ironies–I hope none of my students read the article and then decide it’s open season for being a smart-ass, because those babies are read by the dean! I’m not returning to adjuncting in the Fall, but I haven’t decided on the Spring, and double-haven’t decided on the year after that. I don’t need the money anymore, but I am deathly afraid that my life will have no structure and that I will only wear elastic-waist pants if I no longer work outside the home. I mean technically I can do some of my work at the coffee shop, but why jostle for a spot and risk a Wallflowers playlist when I can have peace, quiet and no firewall right here on my leopard-print chaise?

Of course, I will also miss teaching because I will miss teaching. Teaching is one of my many passions and few gifts. So today when I hand out evals I will say to the students: “These might be the last evals I ever read, because this might be the last teaching I ever do. I hope you will give me something to remember you by.” If that’s a dick drawing, so be it.